If you think getting whipped, caned or tasered was bad enough, you have yet to see the sadistic medieval tortures that was used to torture people. Out of the many many gruesome methods, here are the Top 10 Medieval Torture you will never wish on your worst enemy.
This form of execution made number 10 on the list due to its degree of torture, which if you think about, it would actually be a quick death (Much preferred to the victim then a slow torturous one). Records showed impalement was used as early as the 18th century in Babylonia & Neo-Assyrian Empire. This also was the favorite form of torture of the well-known & menacing ruler of Wallachia, Vlad the Impaler (It’s even in his name) or Vlad Dracula. It was said he once impaled up to 2000 victims. This method of execution involves the use of a long sharp object such as a stake, pole, spear or hook which is then drive completely or partially (Prolonging the torture) through the mid body of its victim. Victim would then be left to die. Impalement was used as a form of punishment for crimes against the state. Also used in wartime to prevent rebellion, punish traitors & collaborators, and punish breaches of military discipline. Although, it is very rare to find impalement as a form of punishment now, it does still exist in some part of the world.
This form of torture is more humiliating rather than painful, but it is a kind of lifelong torture to live a life being shamed and constantly looking down upon. This Germanic invention, first appeared around the 13th century, was used as a form of humiliation commonly towards poachers & prostitutes. It is called the schandmantel/Schandtonne which is German for ‘coat of shame’ or ‘barrel of shame’. As the name suggest, victims would be humiliated in public as they would be forced to put on this barrel like device in front of the public and endure the insults and sometimes, rotten vegetables thrown at them. Other versions of the schandmantel, a more harsher form of torture, includes using heavy weighted stones secured around the neck and another around the lower rims in addition to public humiliation.
08. Heretics Fork
This form of torture is done by depriving sleep from its victim. Designed as a two sided prong with a strap, this device is then strapped to the neck, just under the chin of the victim. With one side of the prong facing just right below the chin, near the throat and the other towards the breast bone. This make it impossible for the victim to move its neck downwards without getting pierced in the throat and eventually, facing immense pain. This is usually used for those who speak of the lord name in vain, blasphemers and liars. It works such that it prevents the criminals from talking. This also prevent the victims from sleeping, forcing them to stay awake for days while being hanged in an upright position, so that they could not lie down and rest their head. This also makes getting confession out of the victims much easier. Also, it is not difficult to make, just stick two regularly forks together. You’re welcome!
07. Neck Torture
So if you think the Heretic’s Fork was bad enough, here is another one even worse. Works almost similarly to the Heretic’s Fork, this device is necklaced around the victim neck with spikes sticking out towards the victim neck. Some of it are attached to wooden sticks. At a very uncomfortable position, the victim is not allowed to move his head anywhere except facing one direction, straight, as any other direction would cause the spike to dig through the victim’s neck causing a lot of pain. On top of that, victims were not allowed to lie down, eat or lower down their head for days. This humiliating and painful torture is widely used by prison guards to control the prisoners while maintaining a safe distance using the wooden sticks attached. This also allows them to make the prisoners move to its intended direction. This method of torture still exist on use for inmates but it is more modernized now such that it uses electrical devices instead of spikes.
Popular within the ancient Persians, this medieval torturing device is a very slow and painful one which could cause torment for days on its victim. Simple yet torturous, Scaphism involves placing the victim in a tub-like chamber naked, force feeding them milk and honey. More honey is then poured on to the victims, usually targeting the eyes, ears, mouth, face, genitals and anus of the victim. Sometimes the honey is mixed with milk and poured onto victim. This would attract insects towards the honey covered victim. The victim is then left on the tub floating on stagnant pond or exposed to the sun. Feces of the victim would be collected in the tub inviting more insects to feast and multiply on the victim exposed flesh. In some cases, after a few days, torturers would feed them milk and honey again preventing fatal dehydration or starvation, prolonging the torture towards the victim. Eventually, death occurs due to a combination of starvation, dehydration and septic shock. The Persians sure do know how to punish an offender.
05. The Brazen Bull
From being insects food to being grilled alive. Used widely in ancient Greece, this torturing device is literally like hell only that it takes place inside of a bull (No, not a live bull). It is known to be invented by a Greek named Perillus of Athen for a tyrant, Phalaris of Agrigentum. Records state, Perillus end up being the first victim of his own creation. There are also reports saying Phalaris ended up as the Bull victim when his subjects became tired of his poor treatment towards them. Worse than being set on fire, this bronze, hollowed, bull shaped like statue has a trap door at one side to move and lock in the victims. Under the bull, a fire is set up heating the metal bull until the victim inside is roasted to death. A series of pipes, like trumpets are found inside the bull to converts the sound of the victims painful screams into the bellowing roar of a bull. Originally it was known to be used to execute criminals for serious crime such as treason in hopes it discourage the population from committing crimes. It has also been reported to be used by the Romans to execute Christians. This torturous device of ancient Greece is not known to be used as a form of execution or punishment anymore.
04. The Judas Cradle
The Judas Cradle, sometimes known as the Judas Chair or the Guided Cradle is shaped like a stool with a sharp pyramid shaped seat. The pointy stool, first appeared during the 16th century Spain. Victim’s of this chair would usually be stripped down naked first before being suspended and then having the pointed end of the seat to be inserted into their anus or vagina. Victim’s feet are bounded together such that if they move a feet, the other would follow involuntarily, increasing pain already applied on the victim due to the pressure. Duration of this torture can vary from a few hours to days. Death can occur due to different reasons; weights being applied to the feet adding extra pressure to the victim on the cradle. Alternatively, the torturer applies oil onto the tip of the chair instead of adding weights. Another possible reason could be death due to infections as the device was rarely or probably never washed at all. So, if the victim took too long to die or torture was interrupted, eventually, they would die from infections. Sometimes, to get confessions, victim would be rocked or made fall repeatedly. This disturbing device is commonly used for religious reasons & at times, political.
03. Rat Torture
Possibly one of the worse way to die is by having to see a rat eating through you. Existing in various forms, it had prove to be one of the most gruesome method of torture or execution. One of the more recognizable form of rat torture, also known as the ‘Rats Dungeon’ or ‘Dungeons of the Rat’, is a cost effective form of torture requiring only a rat, metal container, ropes, heated coals and of course, the victim. This works by firstly, having the victim laying down, tied and restrained. Then a rat would be placed on the stomach area covered under a metallic container or cage strapped to the body. The metallic container would then be heated up usually with heated coals placed on top of it or striking fire over it, rats would then attempt to escape the container due to the very high temperature. In attempt to escape, this creatures would nibble its way out through the stomach. This could take up to a few agonizingly painful hours for the rat to burrow its way out. Victims would usually not die immediately, but eventually after a few hours they would die due to the loss of blood. Another form of rat torture, is inserting rats into the rectum or vagina of its victim using a tube.
02. Spanish Donkey
The Spanish donkey or more commonly known as ‘The Wooden Horse’ is more gruesome and torturous form of the Judas Cradle. It is designed with a body representing that of a donkey body, triangular in shaped, often sharped at the top. In some variations, the middle of the seat area consist of a series of spikes which the victim would be forced to endure when seating on, while being completely naked. In addition, weight would be added to their legs, adding pressure to their crotch area. Usually known to be used on women, men have been reported to have suffered this cruel punishment as well. The scale could range from minor punishment for less serious crimes to severe punishments for the more serious ones. Unintentional death could occur due to the poor stamina of the victim or weight forcing the body down potentially slicing it in two (Based on historical sources) which is very unlikely. It is more widely used during the American Civil War by Union soldiers against Confederate prisoners.
01. Saw torture
Death by saw would by far be one of the most cruel and unforgiving form of torture carried out. Popular in the middle ages, this form of torture sees victim being cut in half either vertically through the groin area towards the head or horizontally through the middle. Victims are usually, hanged upside down prior to cutting, this is so that blood rushes towards the head, keeping the victim conscious even longer. This also reduces the amount of blood loss, delaying time of death due to blood loss. Crimes punishable to this includes witchery, acts of adultery, murder, blasphemy and sometimes even theft. Duration of torture could last up to several hour base on the victim threshold and how far deep the torturer goes. Sometimes, victims were cut completely in half as a form of symbolic gesture, though, usually they are cut only up to their abdomen, prolonging their torture and time of death. There are different variation on how it is carried out but one thing for sure, it is a too harsh of an execution even for the worst of criminals.
Of course there are still many more torturous and menacing form of punishments used during the medieval times but here are our Top 10 of the worst, from being humiliated to being cut in half. We might write another article on another 10 more medieval tortures. Hope you enjoyed and we did not scare you too much!